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Squatters rights/Adverse Possession in PA?

Linesville, PA |

My Uncle has lived on my Great Uncles property for approximately 19 years now. The property taxes come in his name and to the bast of my knowledge have been for the whole time he has lived there. He owns his own trailer and has his own insurance on his trialer and the garage that is on the property. My Great Uncle has the property willed to his Sister but his brother who is the POA/Executor says my Uncle has to go. About two years ago we sat down with My great uncle and his sister and asked him what would happen if he passed with my uncle; it was his wishes that my uncle stay there, but it does not say this in the will. Is there a way to claim/take the land?

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Attorney answers 2


You will have two significant problems making an argument for adverse possession: First, the time for adverse possession in PA is 21 years, and your uncle has only been in possession for 19 years. However, even if he would manage to stay on the property for another two years, he would not likely succeed in obtaining the property under adverse possession. This is because his initial possession was undertaken with the permission of your great uncle. Adverse possession must be "hostile," that is, without permission.

On the facts you have given, other than coming to an agreement with your great-uncle (or his brother via POA), I don't believe your uncle could "claim/take the land."

Is your great uncle still alive? If not, the will (or a deed in joint tenancy) controls the disposition of the property, not a conversation from two years ago. If he is alive, is he physically and mentally capable of making decisions about the property? If so, your uncle would want to speak with him directly.

Of course, I don't know all the facts of this case. I recommend that you speak with an attorney in your area for more decisive guidance.

Please remember to mark this answer as “Helpful” or “Best Answer” if appropriate. Thank you.


Marshall Chriswell

Law Offices of Marshall D. Chriswell
714 Philadelphia St., Suite 200
Indiana, PA 15701
(888) 438-5977
(724) 465-5826


Marshall D. Chriswell is a civil practitioner with offices in Indiana and Clearfield Counties. Mr. Chriswell's practice emphasizes Wills & Estate Planning, Probate, Real Estate, and general civil disputes.


Mr. Chriswell provides free initial consultations, and will gladly meet clients in their homes upon request, including on the evenings or weekends.

This communication does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, feel free to contact our offices.


Attorney Chriswell is correct. You may not like his answer, but it is correct. Let me add one more thing, when you sat down with your great uncle to ask what would happen if he died, you probably confirmed the lack of hostility. Hostility is an element of adverse possession. I do not mean hostility in the sense of two people ready to get a divorce. I mean discussing the matter established that one person does not claim ownership of the property in a manner hostile to the ownership claims of the other. Search this site for my guides on adverse possession for more information. They are excerpts from a book on the topic I wrote for Continuing Legal Education courses.

DISCLAIMER The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Responses are based solely on Pennsylvania law unless stated otherwise. When answering questions on AVVO, attorneys are prohibited from directly soliciting business. Don't take this as an indication of lack of interest. Follow my answers to other questions on Twitter @LandLawyer James S. Tupitza 212 West Gay Street West Chester, PA 19380 610-696-2600

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